Introduction to Leadership Characteristics in the Hospitality Industry


Leadership characteristics exhibited by managers/supervisors in the hospitality industry play an effective role in shaping the overall ‘organizational’ culture in the workplace through its ‘internal culture’ in shaping ’employee attitudes’, reinforcing ‘mutual feelings’ and ‘directing behavior’ for establishing performance anticipations with the required motivation in fulfilling them, whereby, leaders are altogether responsible for ‘making’ and ‘breaking’ an organization depending upon their dominant personality traits entirely (Dhir 2015).

While hospitality managers within an establishment are held responsible for providing ‘structure’ in achieving day-to-day tasks by facilitating the entire team together through assuring contributions from everybody and fostering a purpose of enthusiasm with building a sense of ‘belongingness’ & ‘team identity’ for ‘efficiently’ and ‘effectively’ achieving organizational goals, some of their important key characteristics incorporate ‘self-awareness’, ‘drive’ & ‘self-confidence’, ‘creativity’, ‘business knowledge’, ‘decision-making’, ‘effective communication’ with influencing members with ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ respectively (Macaulay and Cook 1995, Samson and Daft 2015 & Queensland Government 2016).

However, an important feature that is significant among all leadership characteristics is the power of establishing ’empathy’ and ‘openness’ through exhibiting higher emotional intelligence for creating ‘transparency’ & ‘trust’ within an organization since ’emotional engagement’ places a much bigger emphasis over ‘accomplishments’ and absorbs in continuous learning with full respect, resulting in understanding and connecting with employees genuinely in the workplace through rewarding and setting objectives amongst team members respectively (Chun and Avenell n.d. & Butler 2015).

Emotional Intelligence

The term ’emotional intelligence’ in the hospitality environment is an important soft skill and tool effectively utilized by managers for accurately perceiving emotions to regulate emotional knowledge and initially represented by Daniel Goleman within the business world integrating: “self-awareness” representing self-confidence & assessment to acknowledge and understand ‘one’s own emotions’ in guiding behavior to truly accept a leaders’ strengths & weaknesses, “self-management” where customers & staff members require managers in adjusting & assessing their needs with maintaining self-control, achievement, adaptability, conscientiousness, trustworthiness, initiative & orientation to organizational commitment, “social awareness” involving service orientation, organizational awareness & empathy in understanding the feelings of their team members for sustaining strong relationships between employees and leaders & finally, “relationship management” for managers becoming an inspirational guide and persuasive to lead and nurture their subordinates in sharing common goals & inter-communicating vision & objectives respectively (Frangos 2017 & Halsell, Blum and Huffman 2008).

Hence, emotional intelligence today has been recognized as one of key’s ‘leadership skills’, whereby, manager’s should lead with a passionate heart to connect on an emotional level compassionately with communicating effectively to connect with their employees, showing ‘self-awareness’, ‘authenticity’, ‘respect’, ‘kindness’ & ‘creativity’, which in turn, will help the organization to set objectives and meet their goals successfully for providing their customers with a memorable hospitality experience (Ovans 2015 & Crossley 2015).

However, if hospitality managers display characteristics of ’emotional instability’ with not being able to handle the pressure with extreme moodiness to the team members, always try in covering their mistakes through ‘defensiveness’, lacking ‘integrity’ and weak ‘interpersonal’ skills & finally, act with ‘arrogance’ and ‘overconfidence’, it would be very difficult to say that staff members will be able to remain within the organization for longer periods resulting in higher ‘absenteeism’ & ‘staff turnover’ levels (Samson & Daft 2015). It is extremely common for hospitality managers in many circumstances for lacking the awareness of a team member’s genuine feeling in the workplace that can potentially destroy ‘employee satisfaction’ and in return, leads to poor customer service affecting the entire organizational culture.

Analysis & Discussion

The problems that can ultimately result from poor emotional intelligence shown by managers/supervisors is ‘occupational stress’ within the hospitality environment where organizational stressors can come either from ‘task’, ‘physical’, ‘role’ and ‘interpersonal’ demands leading to lower employee productivity standards that would generally result in ‘psychological’, ‘behavioral’ and ‘health’ troubles (Finney, Stergiopoulos, Hensel, Bonato and Dewa 2013 & Samson Daft 2015).

Poor emotional intelligence characteristics of the organization can derive its stress on employees from the environmental elements, mainly including ‘intrinsic job factors’, managing day-to-day ‘relationships’ with ‘subordinates’ & ‘colleagues’ and the ‘organizational climate’ itself (Lo & Lamm 2005). Hence, the major stressors in the organizational culture for decreasing productively integrates poor ‘managerial attitudes’ with ‘unsolved organizational’ issues and ‘disobliging employees’ ensuing in low communication, absenteeism & high staff turnover levels (Brymer 1982).

A critical issue arising out of poor emotional intelligence within an organization is the problem of emotional labor, which is ultimately a very high cost for ‘service sectors’, i.e. Hospitality industry, whereby, people are truly unable to express their true feelings and be themselves in the workplace and can, therefore, be labelled as a ‘hidden’ stress that may cause individuals long term ‘psychological damage’, if left unattended to resolve the situation within time limits (David 2016 & Furnham 2014).


For overcoming problems related to emotional intelligence, it is extremely essential that hospitality managers/supervisors emotionally understand themselves with managing self-awareness regarding their own strengths and weaknesses which could be better inferred through the Johari window.

Luft (1961) states that the Johari window consists of four psychological quadrants incorporating the ‘open’, ‘blind’, ‘hidden’ & ‘mystery’ sides, whereby, the quadrants of ‘open area of free activity’ is known to self and others, ‘blind area’ is not known to self, but known to others, ‘avoided or hidden area’ is known to self and not known to others & ‘area of unknown activity’ is not known to self and others that is extremely useful for managers to learn about themselves in influencing other team members to achieve organizational success in the first instance.

Secondly, it is important for hospitality managers to exercise transformational leadership skills for emotionally engaging with their subordinates that, in turn, will not only lead to higher motivation amongst employees, but also step-up workplace performance & increase staff morale in reducing conflict to achieve organizational goals.

Transformational leadership is where hospitality managers trigger vision and innovation inside the team within the organizational culture for increasing their employees’ ‘affectionate dedication’, ‘trust’ and ‘satisfaction’ respectively, whereby, its four components incorporate ‘aspiration motivation’, ‘intellectual stimulus’, ‘personalized thoughtfulness’ & ‘idealized influence’ acting as a necessity for successful leadership with higher emotional intelligence levels (Frangos 2017).


Choosing amongst all leadership features, whilst using the two important characteristics of ’emotional intelligence’ and ‘motivation’ by hospitality managers altogether to drive organizational success offers a unique advantage over other competitors in the challenging hospitality industry, it is equally essential to establish employee empowerment to an extent through effective delegation in certain departments which will not only help establishments in improving ‘operational efficiency’ and ‘customer satisfaction’ but increasing employees’ productivity standards for maintaining control & trust within the organization (Sternberg 1992).

Written By:- Mr. Angad Arora


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